The Need to Knows
Time: 6:00 pm PT / 9:00 pm ET
The Place: Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta
Where to Watch: ROOT-NW (finally back to our local crew!) or ESPN+ if out of market
Where to Listen: KJR 93.3
Know Your Enemy
If you watched the Kraken’s final game of 2022, then you probably have an idea already of exactly what kind of opponent the Edmonton Oilers are. The Oilers historically haven’t been the best team in the league, but when you have Connor McDavid on your squad, you are always going to be a scoring threat. (Same thing goes for having Leon Draisaitl on your team, but he’s been injured since December 27.) The Kraken learned that the hard way by losing 7-2 to the Oilers.
Those two players are also what makes Edmonton’s power play so effective. Last game, the Kraken only took two penalties, but the Oilers made them pay both times. Going into this matchup, the Oilers have the best power play percentage in the league with 32.1% effectiveness. Now, it’s not to say that Edmonton isn’t also a scoring threat at 5-on-5 (see: possessing not one but two superstar Hart Trophy winners), but their power play is especially where this team makes you pay. It’s not just good advice for the Kraken when I say that playing a disciplined game against Edmonton is a smart idea.
Going into this contest, the Oilers are neck-and-neck with the Kraken in the standings. Both of them sit in the wild card spots in the Western Conference, with the Kraken only sitting ahead of the Oilers due to earning their 42 points in only 35 games played — the Oilers have 42 points in 38 games. With a win, the Kraken could at least put some distance between themselves and Edmonton in the standings (and could possibly leap frog into third in the Pacific if the Flames lose to the Jets). With a loss, the Oilers would jump ahead of them, putting the Kraken in the second wild card spot. Yes, it’s still a bit early to get overly concerned with exact positions in the playoff chase. However, it’ll be a lot easier in the second half of the season if the Kraken don’t fall out of a playoff spot anytime soon.
Mostly, the Kraken are going to be looking for a little bit of revenge. They kicked off 2023 with a solid win against the New York Islanders, and it’ll be up to the Kraken to take that momentum and use it to their advantage against the Oilers. Having played Edmonton less than a week ago also makes for familiarity with the opponent that in theory should help them adjust their strategy and come out stronger.
Another key to this matchup is that it’s the first game of a seven-game road trip for the Kraken. The team won’t be back at Climate Pledge Arena until January 16. The trip goes eastward across Canada before dipping back into the United States, and it’s mostly in the Eastern time zone. Long road trips like this are never easy for teams. The Kraken are absolutely going to want to wrack up wins against teams in this early stretch before the wear and tear of travel gets to them.
In short, it’s a key match to win against a divisional opponent with a chance for the Kraken to prove they can learn from the mistakes of their last tilt with this team.